It’s early in the season, but the OVC is already making it’s name defensively, and like last year, it’s not necessilary a good name. Through the first six days of the season, the top defense in the OVC ranks…180th nationally in DPPP, according to KenPom. The mid-point in Division I is 176th.
It’s obviously too early to make too much out of this, as most teams have just one or two games under their belt, but it’s something to keep an eye on. Scoring is on the rise this season (currently up 6.1 points a game) and so is offensive efficiency. A lot of teams are better on the offensive end of the ball — which makes being better defensively all that more important, because it will be that much rarer.
As I’ve pointed out previously — there’s a strong correlation with the OVC’s successes in March, and great defensive teams.
In news that should shock no one that’s checked out any OVC scores — Belmont is the early top offense in the OVC, ranking a very healthy 33rd nationally in offensive efficiency through their first three games. The next best? Murray State at 124th.
Outside of Jacksonville, Alabama, there probably aren’t many that know the name Malcolm Drumwright, but you might want to start paying attention. Drumwright is averaging 16 points over the Gamecocks first four games of the year, and also leads the team in assists, and has a 4.0 assist-to-turnover ratio. The 6’2 guard is just a sophomore, but is showing a lot of consistency over the first week of the season.
The Gamecocks don’t yet have a win against a Division I opponent, struggle as a team offensively, and are among the worst in the nation right now at getting to the free-throw line in this foul-happy atmosphere surrounding college basketball. They might not be a contender this year, especially given the talent in their division, but it’s not hard seeing Drumwright being a potential star this year, and throughout the rest of his collegiate career.
That being said, it’s also too early to count out the Gamecocks. In less than a month, Cam Biedscheid becomes eligible.
So far this year, SIUE has scored a grand total of 139 points. 51 of them (36%) have come at the free-throw line. That’s almost double the pace the Cougars set last year. There are positives here: SIUE is getting to the line at a great rate, they’re shooting a healthy 73.9% from the charity stripe, and they’re 1-1.
But there’s one pretty big negative: Their games are hard to watch. Right now, the free-throw line is about the only place the Cougars can score, as SIUE has yet to break 40% shooting in a game. I don’t care how good Jon Harris‘s defense proves to be, you’re not winning games consistently when you’re shooting 33% from the field.
The two teams SIUE has played were average defensively a year ago. In other words: they’re not Kentucky or Virginia. We thought this might be a “rebuilding” year for the Cougars, and early on that appears to be the case.